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The lingo of a conforming tender


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Posted by PlantMiner
While it's important to know what to write when responding to a tender, it's equally useful to look at how to write. Learn about the key terms that decide the difference between a conforming tender application and a giant waste of time. 

WILLs, SHALLs and MUSTs = Mandatory criteria 

It's a basic requirement to fill out all mandatory fields when submitting tenders. If you do not sufficiently respond to these mandatory questions and address all sections that state 'will', 'shall' or 'must', you are submitting a non-confirming tender.

What this means for you? Well, plain and simply, your tender is dismissed and never reaches the evaluating teams desk. Here are some example mandatory questions which may pop up on your next tender applicaiton. 

  • Offer must remain open and capable of being accepted by Principal for a minimum period of 120 Business Days
  • To be a Conforming Offer, the offer must respond to all sections of this Invitation to Offer document in full 

Top tip: Before you jump too deep into the tender doc, highlight every questions which contains the words 'will', 'shall' or 'must'. If you can satisfy all these points, keep going! If you can't, you won't be submitting a conforming tender application.

WOULDs, SHOULDs, COULDs or MAYs = Wouldda Shouldda Couldda 

Answer evaluation criteria and address any questions that include 'would', 'should', 'could' and 'may'. Criteria with these key words are known as 'desirable' and are used by evaluating teams to separate conforming tenders (those that adequately met the must, will and shall requirements). It's not an all or nothing field - if you are halfway towards meeting a criteria, submit any relevant details. 

Answering these criteria will improve your chances of winning work by highlighting and reinforcing your competitive advantages. 

N/A = Never Acceptable

Unless the section specifically states N/A as an appropriate answer, NEVER supply a two word response. By stating N/A to any criteria, you are asking the evaluating team to make an assumption about why this field does not apply to your business. 

For all cases, unless specifically stated, N/A is treated as not answering the question adequately. Provide a reason as to why you believe this section is not applicable, such as "This question does not apply as we do not cover electrical works". 

See 12(A) = See you later

The team evaluating your tender has to consider each line of your offer. This means they are reading thousands of words of content amongst numerous documents for your tender alone.

Provide a document that is easy to navigate by clearly demonstrating your businesses capacity to deliver on contract, for EVERY question. Although it may seem repetitive, avoid creating a shortcut like see answer in question 12 (A).

Remember, the evaluating team wants to see that your business is willing to go the extra mile to meet their project requirements - and providing a response that indicates that you believe it's not worth answering in full isn't it. 

If you truly think that you cannot answer the question in a different way, copy and paste from the applicable field. 

Assumptions = They'll make an ass out of u and me

An evaluating team can only assess what is provided as part of a tender response, or through the interview process. Don't assume they know who you are, even if you've worked with them before. If you don't write it down or tell them, they cannot asses it! 

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